Sounds of Senegal
I will never forget the sounds of this place….at times loud and jarring, at times soothing and peaceful, and at times everything all at once.
In Senegal, you hear a beat wherever you go. Someone nearby is always playing a drum. My experience in this county included a lot of music and I am thankful for that. In Diass a community artist and musician, Papis, made sure our week was full of sound and visual art…from Saafi Saafi performances on our first evening to drum lessons at his artist commune, to batik fabric dyeing demonstrations. He even gave us an akonting and drum to take back with us to the US. In Toubab Dialaw, our hotel is an artists haven. Each day there were yoga classes, painting lessons, and music lessons available and each night concerts…which just happened to be outside my hotel room door. I heard Senegalese music well into the night and although sleep was difficult, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even our students at Lycee de Diass performed for us each day.
The call to prayer in the morning and evening was a beautiful way to begin and end each day. A mosque was located right next to our hotel and broadcast the call to prayer and sometimes all of the prayers and chants. The combination of the prayers and the sounds of the ocean together are something I will never forget.
Diass is twenty minutes inland, but we stayed on the coast. The hotel was up above the ocean and everything except our actual room was located outside. We ate breakfast and dinner each day with the sound of the surf in the background and I could even hear the waves crashing from my room in the early morning hours. The beach is my happy place and and it really was rejuvenating to be near the ocean each night after a very busy and exhausting day.
Riding in a car can be an adventure at times. The roads where we were are not very good and we had a thirty minute drive along a dirty road filled with rocks and holes. Our driver (who did not speak much English) called it the “bump, bump, bump” road. Drivers communicate with one another by honking the horn and that happens all the time. It might signal you are passing, or maybe they are getting too close, or maybe you are just being friendly.
Listening to people communicate in Senegal is an incredible sensory experience all on its own. They are fluent in so many different languages and switch back and forth between them with amazing ease. Earlier today I heard a conversation between two teachers in which they spoke French, Wolof, Saafi, and English at some point in the five minute exchange. I am so impressed (and admittedly jealous) that learning languages is emphasized and plays such a big part of the culture and everyday life in Senegal.
Right now as I type this I am actually hearing many of the sounds at the same time. The waves are crashing in the background, drummers are playing for a music fest to benefit refugees, and chants are being broadcast by speaker from the mosque. These are the sounds of Senegal.